Activism The World Inequality

Your activism in SWANA countries cannot start and end with Palestine

Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of my white, non-Middle Eastern friends posting about Palestine and Yemen on social media. Some of the content has been about protesting recent annexations in Palestine, or the Israeli government. Others are about the famine in Yemen, though with very little political context. This is a good start, but honestly, I wish these allies would step up their game. Activism for SWANA people does not start or end with Palestine and Yemen.

I think it’s great that people are protesting imperialism by the Israeli government. However, I never see any of these people standing up for other colonized or oppressed groups in the Middle East. How many of you are standing up for the Kurds, Armenians, Assyrians, Yazidi, or the Druze? Listen, as a Middle-Eastern person, I get that the intricacies of ethnicity in the Middle East can be complicated. Still, there’s no excuse to not stand up for these minority groups. All of them are fighting for human rights, dignity, and autonomy. Do their struggles not matter as well? Or are their struggles just not as popular? 

I’ve seen few posts about the media crackdown in Iran or the financial crisis in Lebanon – that is at least until the Beirut explosion opened people’s eyes to what’s happening in the country. Is it because these issues don’t seem as clear cut? Because it’s harder to project a white savior complex onto them? I’m not so sure.

But I do know that white Americans prefer to center conflicts where they can be the saviour.

Part of me thinks that white allies aren’t willing to speak out on these issues because there’s no media coverage. Another part of me thinks it’s because white allies don’t understand them. When it comes to issues of oppression and imperialism, white Americans have trouble seeing things outside of a Western context.

Race, ethnicity, and religion function in different and complex ways in South West Asia, and so you can’t project Western notions of oppression onto the Middle East. Often, people of the same race or religion oppress each other. It’s easier for white allies to understand Israel and Palestine, in which they are seeing white, Jewish, colonizers versus brown, Muslim, indigenous people. They don’t bother to look at the multitudes more nuanced examples of oppression.

For example, the Kurds, a majority Muslim ethnicity, face repression and violence from the Turkish government. They are often made up of Turks, who are also from a majority Muslim ethnicity. Just because they are both Muslim and appear to be the same ethnicity to Western eyes, doesn’t mean that oppression can’t function in this way. In Palestine, right now, a government made up of Jewish people is oppressive. Still, in most other countries in the area, Jewish people, specifically indigenous Mizrahi or Sephardic Jews, are oppressed by majority ethnic groups.

I’d ask white Western allies to examine why they only pay attention to certain issues. It’s great if you’re passionate about these causes, but consider why you only care about the ones that are trending.

It’s also important for white Westerns to not hold double standards for South West Asian countries. Go ahead and criticize the imperialism and ethno-nationalism present in the Israeli government. It’s justified. But don’t you dare ignore the settler colonialism that created countries such as America, South Africa, Australia, or the ethno-nationalism responsible for the formation of almost every European country.

Speak out for the treatment of ethnic minorities in Turkey, by all means. But you still must ask yourself how your own country treats ethnic minorities as well. If you’re upset over the media crackdown in Iran, make sure you also criticize secret police arrests in Portland.

Many white Western allies are making an effort, but they need to do better. I understand that Middle Eastern politics can be confusing, but it’s not helpful to anyone to reduce these issues to a singular “endless war” that only Westerners can solve. Palestine and Yemen are great starting points, but we need more consistent allyship. I want to see white Western allies show up even when it’s not trendy.

So stand with us even when you don’t hear about it in the news, even when you don’t gain “woke pains,” and even when it’s complex and not easy to understand. If you’re a real ally, it shouldn’t be an issue.


Get The Tempest in your inbox. Read more exclusives like this in our weekly newsletter!

World News The World

Here’s what you need to know about the ongoing Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict

You probably haven’t heard about Armenia and Azerbaijan in the news. The two countries have been at war for decades, but the conflict is starting to heat up again. You might be wondering what on Earth this conflict is about, and why it even matters. All I can say is: it’s a complex issue, and it absolutely matters.

Armenia and Azerbaijan are both South-West Asian countries located in the Caucasus, a region that also includes Turkey, Iran, and Georgia. The people of Armenia are one of the oldest ethnic groups in the region, indigenous to the Armenian Highlands. They are almost always Christian. Azeris, who live in Azerbaijan, are from a Turkic ethnic group, who came over in the medieval times and established their homes in Anatolia and the Caucasus mountains. They tend to be Muslim.

The conflict is mainly over a contested territory known as Nagorno Karabakh to Azeris, and Artsakh to Armenians. Artsakh was historically a part of Armenia, but when the Soviet Union took over, they handed the land over to Azerbaijan to promote diplomatic relations with Turkey. The Soviet Union tried its best to increase the Azeri population of the region, and it was almost a quarter Azeri at its peak. After decades of war, however, the population is now about 99% Armenian. Azeris in Artsakh and Armenia have been systematically displaced, and Armenians in Azerbaijan have been forced to leave as refugees as well. 

The conflict began to heat up again earlier this month, when Azerbaijani forces invaded the border of Armenia. This is a turning point for both countries. Not only was a ceasefire in place, but the invasion took place in the border villages of Tavush. This is in Armenia proper, not in contested territory.

However, the real battle has been taking place within the diaspora, not on the front lines. In cities such as Baku, Moscow, and Los Angeles, Armenians and Azeris have been fighting on the streets. There have been assaults and vandalism. Protestors from both sides are burning flags and stepping on them. Azerbaijani protestors have even been crushing imports of Armenian apricots. 

A lot of the violence has been taking place over the internet as well. I follow a lot of Armenian meme pages, and I can see the fights going on in the comments sections. There are death threats and sexual assault threats, spamming of flag emojis, and nationalist chants. I’ve been most affected by Azeri trolls saying they hope to finish the Armenian Genocide. Listen, we all have our disagreements, but threatening to commit genocide and referencing our historic trauma is not okay.

As an Armenian-American, I’ll admit the issue is personal for me. Armenians have lost most of our historic homeland, and our land is very important to us. The population of Artsakh/Nagorno-Karabakh is mostly Armenian and has declared itself independent of Azerbaijan, and I do believe in self-determination. I’m obviously disgusted by the fact that even uncontested land in Armenia is under attack. We are still reeling from the wounds of the genocide and the loss of our land, and it’s natural to have a complex emotional reaction.

However, I still feel for Azeri people. It’s horrible that so many of them have been displaced, assaulted, and killed, and I feel for them. It is the fault of Turkey and the Soviet Union, not the Azeris, for giving our land away so carelessly.  We both became pawns of greater colonial powers. None of these colonial powers are on our side. Both of us have been taught from a young age to hate each other, sometimes to the point of violence. The ignorance and hatred starts at a young age, and it can be hard to unlearn. We Armenians often attack them for their dictatorial government, but that’s not their fault. After all, aren’t they the main victims of this dictatorship? It’s so easy to forget that our “enemies” are human beings too. 

At least for me, I just want the bloodshed to end. I don’t want there to be more Baku Pogroms or another Khojaly Massacre. I’m not going to play the “both sides” argument, but we cannot ignore the fact that both of our groups have suffered immensely at the hands of this conflict.

I am not going to excuse the Azerbaijani government’s refusal to acknowledge the UN ceasefire. I cannot excuse the way that Azeris have carelessly called for a completion to the Armenian Genocide. However, I don’t think that our goal should be to win the war. It should be to have peace, for once. I know it’s naive, but someday I’d love for Armenians and Azeris to coexist someday, maybe in neighboring countries, and maybe even in the same one. We were born into this conflict, but we don’t have to let it continue. I don’t want the people of Azerbaijan to be my enemy, but it’s going to take work from all sides to create peace. If you want to do your part, sign these petitions to get Aid to Armenia and Artsakh as Azerbaijan breaches their borders  and stop Armenia from invading Azerbaijan’s land and killing Azerbaijani people.

If you want to learn more about the conflict, here’s some additional Reading:

Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict: Why Caucasus flare-up risks wider war 

De-escalating the New Nagorno-Karabakh War 

US silence on Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict reflects international disengagement

Global Conflict-Tracker

Armenia and Azerbaijan: Preventing War

Armenia and Azerbaijan: A Season of Risks

Armenia/Azerbaijan: Don’t Attack Civilians

Culture Family Life

Being part Middle Eastern made me feel like an imposter

I was walking back with some classmates one day after a study session, using the time to express my annoyance at how people treat all Middle Eastern people like terrorists. My other classmates agreed with me, but then one of them, a white male conservative, said something that shocked me. He told me he understood why people were so scared of Middle Eastern people because he was a little scared himself.

There was only one catch. I’m Middle Eastern.

I’ll admit, I don’t look stereotypically Middle Eastern. I have light hair, blue eyes, and an itty bitty nose, like the whitest of white American socialites. I have a very white American name, Camilla, courtesy of my WASPy father. However, I am still proudly and genuinely Middle Eastern.

My mother’s side of the family is Armenian, primarily from Turkey and Iran. Our family also hails from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine, and Azerbaijan. We come from Istanbul, Isfahan, Jerusalem, and Beirut. We’ve lived in the Middle East for thousands of years, so we consider ourselves indigenous to the region. Our ancestral tongue is Armenian, as well as Turkish, Arabic, and Farsi. Many of my family members still speak these languages. We eat shish kebab, pilaf, hummus, baklava, tabbouleh, and other delicious Middle Eastern foods that aren’t as well known. My family members have names like Krikor, Arousiak, Satenik, and Armen, that other people think are difficult to pronounce. My grandmother’s house is full of doilies, embroidery, and soorj (coffee) pots from the old country. And trust me, you don’t want to get caught between my family members when they fight over who pays the check. 

I still look white, and I consider myself white. My name, religion, and appearance are all familiar to other white Americans. But being Middle Eastern and not looking it can be a strange and painful experience – sometimes I feel like an imposter. 

Family gatherings are the worst. My family always comments on my appearance, telling me that I’m pretty because I don’t look Armenian. I always hear how much I look like my father, how lucky I am to have a small nose, and how nobody would ever know I was Middle Eastern. I know they mean to compliment me, but it makes me feel as if I don’t belong – like I’m invisible

My non-Middle Eastern peers are also not particularly understanding. When I tell people where I’m from, several people have asked if I’ve had a nose job. Oftentimes, I talk about my culture, only to hear some snarky remark like “well, you don’t look like it,” or “you’re only part Middle-Eastern.” I get it, I have never and will never experience the profiling and racism that so many other Middle Eastern people experience. However, my appearance will never erase my cultural and familial roots. It is not up to non-Middle Eastern people to determine how I identify and how I express my culture.

The worst part is that when I’m in white spaces, I hear a lot of racism against Middle Eastern people. Because other white people assume I’m not Middle Eastern, they seem to think they can say terrible things about my culture with no consequences. I’ve heard white boys say they wanted to bomb Iran, without realizing that my family lived in Iran for hundreds of years. I’ve heard white people say that Middle Easterners have sex with goats (we don’t), are all terrorists (also not true), and are all oil tycoons (I do have a relative who was an oil tycoon, but still, that’s not the point).

All of these comments have hurt me deeply. It especially hurts to know that if these people knew that I was Middle Eastern, they wouldn’t have said a thing. These kinds of cowardly racists like to test the waters around other white people, to see how far they can push it. It’s a covert and secret form of racism that I would have never known existed if I didn’t look the way I do.

It’s difficult at times. I almost feel like two people. In one word, I’m a spy in white America who’s there to ruin the fun when someone makes a racist comment. In the other, I’m an assimilated family member who doesn’t understand the traditions and doesn’t look like anyone else. So many times, I feel stuck, torn. I know I could blend into white American culture seamlessly. Still, I don’t want to give up my Middle Eastern heritage.

In the end, as hard as it is, I am grateful for my complexity. It allows me to see the world through multiple lenses, to experience different cultures, and to look past my assumptions of other people. Regardless of how others perceive me, I am immeasurably proud to be Middle Eastern, and I will carry that pride with me all my life.

World News Action Guide The World

Turkey has a femicide crisis. Here’s how you can help.

Trigger Warnings for violence against women, sexual/physical abuse and murder.

Pınar Gültekin was a 27-year-old Turkish university student with dreams and goals. She had people who loved her, responsibilities to fulfill, and hobbies to pass the time. Earlier this month, her former partner Cemal Metin Avci, a bar manager in the resort town of Akyaka, decided that he had the right to end her life, by beating and strangling her to death. Her burnt remains were discovered in a garbage bin covered in concrete, in a woodland in the Aegean province of Muğla. But she was not the first woman to be a victim of gender-based violence and femicide in Turkey, and she will not be the last – unless we help.

Femicide – the killing of women by men because they are women – in Turkey has always been a longstanding issue. Since 2012, the number of femicides has more than doubled in the country. At least 474 women were murdered in 2019, most of them by current or former partners, family members, or unrelated males who wanted a relationship with them.

By continuing to ignore gender-based violence and femicide, you are effectively supporting it.

As of 1 August, 177 Turkish women have been murdered in 2020 alone. Data on deaths is compiled from news reports and victims’ families by campaign group We Will Stop Femicide, which began tracking murders of women, after the government admitted it did not keep records.

The country became the first to ratify a 2011 Council of Europe accord, named the Istanbul Convention, on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. However, despite having a progressive agenda for the safety of women, a conservative section within Turkish media and social groups have been lobbying for Ankara to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention, arguing it has a negative influence on Turkish family values.

Ebru Asiltürk, the spokeswoman for women’s’ affairs for Turkey’s Islamic conservative Saadet Party, is one such critic. In an opinion piece for Turkey’s conservative daily Milli, she wrote the treaty would be like a “bomb” destroying Turkey’s traditional family structure. She argued it would threaten the “financial and moral integrity of families.” In her view, the convention breaches Article 41 of the Turkish Constitution which enshrines the protection and unity of the family. She, therefore, urges Turkey to abandon the treaty altogether.

Not only is the resistance to the Istanbul Convention working against women empowerment in the country, but many argue that the silence of political leaders further enables this violence towards women.

While Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan took to Twitter to express his condolences for Gültekin (“Yesterday, we were overwhelmed with pain when we had to learn that Pinar Gültekin was murdered by a villain. I despise all crimes committed against women’), he has also expressed misogynistic views in the past, particularly that women are incomplete without motherhood, and has portrayed women as subordinate citizens.

As New York Times writer, Beril Eski, observes, “According to Turkish law, the applications of women seeking protection from violence are to be handled within 24 hours by the courts without requiring any evidence. The court may restrain a man accused of domestic violence from visiting the family house or the children’s school up to six months. It may restrict his communication with family members and confiscate his licensed gun. If he violates the order, he may be imprisoned. And while all this sounds like an effective way to handle such matters, without protective measures, economic support and psychological support, restraining orders are mere pieces of paper, often found in the bags of murdered Turkish women.”

Rabia Gursoy, a Turkish woman who is an Assistant Multimedia Editor for The Statesman and international reporter, also points how censorship and lax sentences for abusers further perpetuate violent misogynistic acts within Turkey.

As of 1 August, 177 Turkish women have been murdered in 2020 alone.

She told The Tempest, “I think the real issue is that people don’t speak up. They are afraid that no one will believe them and that no one will be able to protect them if they do. People get arrested for tweets, and that just prevents a lot of people from speaking up about issues in Turkey.” Censorship is a prevailing issue in Turkey, with a new amendment seeking to control social media, and increase online censorship. And women seem to be victims of censorship both online and offline.

Furthermore, as Gursoy states, “A great number of abusers are set free without properly serving their punishment.”

According to Eski, “Sentences meted out to perpetrators of violence against women are often lenient, and judges regularly reduce their jail terms. Quite frequently, the sentences are reduced simply on the basis of an accused or convicted man’s appearance. Men who wear neckties and suits during their court appearances get their sentences reduced so often that Turks have coined a phrase for the phenomenon: ‘tie reduction.'”

When a woman is murdered in Turkey, if she is lucky, her black and white photograph is shot across screens. A life is lost. Through such an event, the challenge for other women to post a black and white photo of themselves, to speak to the fact that they might be next to be murdered and have their photo released to the public in the announcement of their death, was started. Since its inception, this original message was sadly lost along the way (a reoccurring theme for social media) as women posted vague captions alongside their B&W photos, rather than Turkey-targeted messages. As Gursoy told us, “Awareness and accountability are so important in rooted problems like these. Social media is a great way to spread awareness. However, it isn’t enough.” We have to look at other means to help the women of Turkey.


Only through the economic, political and educational empowerment of Turk women will we see tangible change in the levels of femicide in the country. Women need resources to escape abusive domestic or workplace situations, and the human rights allocated to them to seek legislative justice. Listed here are just a few charitable groups that are dedicated to the empowerment of women.

The Turkish Women and Democracy Association, known as KADEM, is an NGO that supports human rights, with a particular focus on the rights of women.
Click here to contact them for ways to support their cause.

HasNa is an NPO that aims to provide leadership and technical training as well as the tools required for combating the problems faced by women in Turkey. More specifically, HasNa’s training program addresses NGO empowerment, integration of men into the gender dialogue, and creating stronger gender programs.
Click here to donate to their cause.
Click here to volunteer for the organization.

The Turkish Women Union aims to make women more active in social life and to help women secure their political rights. They achieve this through education and awareness-raising activities. Their campaign ‘Girls Not Brides is a global partnership of more than 1300 civil society organisations from over 100 countries committed to ending child marriage and enabling girls to fulfill their potential.
Click here donate in support of ending child marriages in various countries.

The Borgen Project seeks to fight extreme poverty of which Turkey suffers from. This cause indirectly supports women empowerment through the employment of women.
Click here to be a donor.

The 30% Club is a campaign working towards gender balance on boards and in senior management, with a mission to reach at least 30% representation of all women on all boards and C-suites globally. In 2017, they launched its Turkey Chapter to improve gender diversity in Turkish business. This will empower women to be financially independent.
Contact Sevda Alkan ( to get involved with or to find out more about the membership criteria for the Turkish Chapter.

The Cagdas Yasami Destekleme Dernegi (Association in Support of Contemporary Living) is an association that has been running campaigns to increase enrolment of girls population by utilizing civil and corporate funds toward establishing scholarship programs, building and improving schools, building girls dormitories, libraries, opening classrooms for pre-schoolers, etc.
Click here to support their mission for the advancement of education for Turkish women.

For a list of organizations that operate within Turkey, click here.

Warning: Many have accused of ‘siphoning’ money from its ‘Chip In’ option rather than all money from donations going to the relevant cause so maybe don’t donate through their website.

Sign Petitions

Petitions do not exist in a vacuum. There are many more steps after signing your name to effect real change. However, they are a start. Petitions mobilize supporters and reinforce views. Their numbers strike governments with facts on how many are in favor of or against their actions. Listed below are only a few of the many petitions you could sign to help women in Turkey.

The Istanbul Convention helps in preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.

Continue to educate yourself

Turkey, like with most African and Asian countries, is not covered in Western/mainstream media to such exhaustive ends afforded to Trump’s twitter rants, Kylie Jenner’s net worth, and the hidden easter eggs in Taylor Swift’s latest album.

As the situation worsens, it’s important for the rest of the world to take the initiative to read up on countries that fall on the outskirts of their social media bubbles. Research the issue’s history and how it is currently operating in modern society. When you encounter someone who is not familiar with the topic, spread your knowledge. It is only through collective effort that a dent will be made in Turkey’s femicide crisis.

The sad fact is that violence towards women is not a new phenomenon. It happens to your next-door neighbour, the woman who bags your groceries, the CEO of your favorite hair care brand, and it could possibly happen to you. This issue will not disappear on its own accord. Abusive men will not wake up one day and cease their abhorrent doings. Systems need to be put into place to make such actions harder to carry out or get away with. By continuing to ignore gender-based violence and femicide, you are effectively supporting it.


How Rep. Ilhan Omar failed humanity with just one word

In the House of Representatives in the United States, members vote on a bill by either stating “aye”/”yea”, “no,” or “present.” To vote present means that the representative opted to not take a stance or side on a particular bill.  On October 29, 2019, the House of Representatives in the United States passed a resolution acknowledging the Ottoman Empire’s genocide. Aside from the Armenian genocide, the resolution included the Assyrian and Greek genocides as well. It was a vote with a  405-11 margin.

One of the eleven members that voted “present” or against that recognition was none other than Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. A shocking move considering that she’s only one of two Democrats to have voted in such a way. Even more shocking considering her unwavering demands for human rights in so many countries.

a woman wearing a blue plaid blazer with a blue head covering speaking at a podium
[Image description: A woman wearing a blue plaid blazer with a blue head covering speaking at a podium.] via Flickr
As an Assyrian, I was conflicted with emotions. While I felt joy that the House voted to pass the resolution, I also felt anger towards Rep. Ilhan Omar. Who knew that a simple word like “present” could have so much weight?

Her reasoning for the decision? The United States has yet to acknowledge its own genocide against natives. While I agree with her on that front, giving weight to one atrocity over another is not a solution. It is a slap in the face. As a former, avid supporter of hers – I feel let down beyond imagination.

The representative went on to defend her stance by tweeting:

The timing? We have waited 104 years for this country to acknowledge the genocide committed against us. 31 countries had acknowledged the genocide prior to this resolution. Tell me, Rep. Ilhan Omar, how much longer should we have waited for our turn?


I didn’t realize that genocide recognition is on a “first come first serve” basis. She has a platform. She has a voice. As a pastor of St. Sahag Armenian Church in St. Paul said: “It is discouraging [that a representative who serves many Armenians in her district] chose not to hear their voices. It goes against her work, as she claims to be fighter for justice, for doing what’s right.”

I could not have said this better myself. A simple yet strong message would have been to vote in favor of the resolution and then acknowledge the genocides that still need to be recognized.

She claims that the United States was using this bill as a political ploy. What she fails to realize is that this was the perfect time to submit this resolution. Amidst yet another Turkish attempt at ethnic cleansing, this time in Syria, it is time for the world to acknowledge these atrocities.

If I am being honest, I don’t buy her reasoning.  Let’s not forget that on the same day, Rep. Omar voted against a bill that would place sanctions on Turkey after their violent assault against Kurdish forces. The Turkish forces also laid siege against the Assyrian, Armenian, and Arab communities in Syria, killing many.

Her reasoning this time? Sanctions are not effective. Interesting, given the fact she has stated, rightfully so, that sanctions and boycotts should be imposed on Israel. I agree with the latter. Ilhan wrote in an opinion that sanctions:

“Hurt the people of the country – generally  the very people we’re purporting to help – without making a dent in the country’s behavior.”

She goes on to give examples of Iran and Venezuela and how the sanctions negatively impacted their populations. While I agree with this notion, the bill presented against Iran is not the same as the one being presented against Turkey. The sanctions being imposed on the latter are targeting government officials and their investments directly – not the populace.

Which raises the question – why the change of heart? I believe it is because of her undeniable ties with Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. In 2017, Rep. Ilhan Omar met with the Turkish President despite the already mounting human rights accusations placed against him. This was not the first, nor the last interaction between Omar and the Turkish government.

As a representative that claims she is for human rights, she has a responsibility. That responsibility is to be an advocate for the human rights of ALL PEOPLE. That means putting aside political ties and relations when it means standing up against crimes against humanity. This is something Rep. Ilhan Omar has failed to demonstrate at least twice since her election into office.

She has the voice and platform many of us do not. It is a shame that she is opting to not use it. It is even more shameful that she is opting to wear the all too familiar politician hat, rather than one of a true humanitarian for all causes.

Fashion Lookbook

Why Tehran and Istanbul are the fashion capitals of the future

When you hear the phrase ‘fashion capital’, you might immediately think of Milan, London, Paris, or New York. After all, some of the most iconic fashion designers of recent times – Coco Chanel, Tommy Hilfiger, Alexander McQueen, and Gianni Versace, to name a few – have emerged from or are strongly affiliated with these cities. 

But there are two cities that are strikingly fashion forward, yet rarely recognized for being so: Tehran and Istanbul. Seemingly different, yet similar, these two cities have one pursuit in common: the breaking of stereotypes through self-expression. 

[Image description: A woman wears a red headscarf and stares into the camera.] Via Milad Shams on Unsplash.
When I traveled to Tehran for the first time, my trip gave me a brand new perspective on what the words ‘fashion statement’ really meant. In Iran, what you wear is more than just the brand name. Your style is a gateway of self-expression and individuality, an attitude that allowed me to embrace my truest self through my wardrobe.

Islamic dress code has in many ways inspired Iranians to create newer, more intricate ideas that fit into this framework for women and men alike. Iranians have mastered the idea of turning a simple look into a unique, chic style tailored to one’s individual personality. Many shop owners travel abroad to different countries, finding the newest, most fashion-forward trends to bring back home. In some cases, sellers open boutiques, called mezon or maison, in their own homes, where they sell only the latest trends. Here, you will find styles that are not yet on the market in many countries, but have been introduced only in cities like Paris or Milan.

Iran has its own set of designers and taste-makers that are redefining street style and Islamic or modest fashion.  For modest, yet fashion-forward styles, designers like Naghmeh Kiumarsi are setting the standards. Breaking free of the traditional black or blue chador, Naghmeh incorporates rich colors, like deep maroons and emerald greens, to pull off a sophisticated look. 

Another designer, Shadi Parand, ensures that her customers have a one-of-a-kind outfit, as she never makes the same design twice. Shadi incorporates traditional Iranian prints and integrates them into more modern styles. She also designs looks that are to be worn both indoors and outdoors.

Recently, Tehran has revamped the tried-and-true trend of pleated skirts paired with traditional loose coats by adding patterned head scarves with just the right pop of color that are tied or arranged in a number of different styles. It should be noted that these styles are complementary for both Muslims and non-Muslims, such as myself, and allow us to access the fashion world and the latest trends on our own terms.

[Image description: Two women in pink and blue coats and sparkling heels walk along a street in Istanbul.] Via negativespace.
Istanbul is equally unique, but for a different reason. Istanbul is on the cusp of the Middle East and Europe. Because of this, it has become noted for its unique take on fashion that is influenced by both East and West. 

In 2018, one of the more prominent fashion shows, MAGIC, held its annual show in Las Vegas, where Istanbul was named as a fashion capital for the first time. There, prominent Turkish designers showcased their newest designs for the American public. Designers from the most notable fashion capitals, like Milan, London, and Paris, have implemented Turkish designs and ideas into their own collections.

Designers like Zeynep Guntas moved to Milan to pursue her fashion line. Zeynep hand-paints all of her clothing, which has grown in popularity in Milan, especially as streetwear. Turkish designer Bora Aksu has grown rapidly popular in London, where he incorporates designs tailored to a more European style. Another Turkish designer, ERDEM, is based in Canada. He creates chic evening wear that is elegant and unique with intricate patterns.

[Image description: A girl in a red sweater and black headscarf is seated on a bench with her back to the camera.] Via Erfan Amiri on Unsplash.
As of late, Istanbul has shifted from mostly purely European styles to integrating more modest looks that incorporate Islamic values and Turkish culture. One notable modest fashion line is  Modanisa, which aims to produce more modest interpretations of the latest fashion trends. 

These designs not only have an ‘East meets West’ element, but also recapture a global discourse that has historically been dominated by the Western world. In a day and age when there are many misconceptions about the Middle East and Islam, designers in both Tehran and Istanbul have been working to break free of stereotypes. They also give new meaning to what it means to be fashionable or on-trend.

Not only are both cities fashion forward, the designs they produce appeal to a large, previously uncatered-to audience. This has allowed them to practice self-expression without compromising their values or preferences. This open-mindedness, creativity and innovation make both cities worthy of being the future fashion capitals of the world.


10 of the most heartwarming wedding traditions from around the world

Wedding season is here again, and with it comes non-stop action and excitement for brides, grooms, and everyone else that’s a part of such a momentous occasion – not to mention many wedding traditions!  If you’re a bride to be, you’ve probably glanced over many a wedding magazine, and Pinterest is probably your new best friend.

However, wedding planning is often as exciting as it is draining. One thing that might help when it feels like you’re running out of ideas is exploring wedding traditions from other cultures. Random as it may seem, cultural traditions can help give you inspiration for your own wedding, especially regarding what meaning and mood you’d like it to embody.

The cross-cultural wedding traditions on this list will make any girl swoon – from sweet well-wishes to the couple from guests to a literal knife dance (yes, really), there’s a little bit of inspiration here for every kind of couple. 

1.  Henna night, Turkey

[Image description: Bride is celebrated during henna night.] via Shutterstock
[Image description: Bride is celebrated during henna night.] via Shutterstock
During a Turkish henna night, known as Kina Ginesi, the bride has henna placed on her hands prior to leaving her mother. The bride wears a velvet dress and a veil and is surrounded by her female friends and family members.

While the bride sits and has her henna done, the other women sing sad songs around her. The idea is to make the bride cry before she leaves home, and once the women succeed, they each put henna on the bride’s hands and then on the hands of the bride’s mother and other guests.

While this tradition may be seen as sad to some, it commemorates the beautiful bond between a mother and a daughter.  As someone who is super close to her mom, this one gives me the feels for sure!

2. The couple’s entrance, Assyrians

[Image description: Assyrian wedding entry with woman and man seated on chairs.] Via Unsplash
[Image description: Assyrian wedding entry with woman and man seated on chairs.] Via Unsplash
I might be biased when I say this, but Assyrians really know how to throw a wedding. My favorite part of an Assyrian wedding has always been the entrance by the couple – not only is it a beautiful site to see, but it’s so much fun!

Prior to the couple entering the hall, families, and friends gather near the entrance doors. As the couple proceeds into the hall, family members and friends dance and sing in front of the newlyweds. Women often wave their yalikhta or dancing veil around the happy couple, and the touching moment displays the happiness of the couple’s family and friends for their union.

3. Zaffe, Lebanon

[Image description: Man and woman dance in the Lebanese wedding tradition.] via visualizepictures
[Image description: Man and woman dance in the Lebanese wedding tradition.] via visualizepictures
I’m not even Lebanese, but I don’t have to be to love this tradition. Typically, the zaffe takes place at the respective homes of the couple. Drums are played, zaffe dancers perform, and friends and family partake in the celebrations.

Both the bride and groom dance around the drummers, with family and friends joining in. It’s a fun and celebratory tradition that’s guaranteed to get the party started at any wedding.

4. Knife dance, Iran

[Image description: An Iranian knife dance takes place] via Fiona Hall Photography
[Image description: An Iranian knife dance takes place] via Fiona Hall Photography
There’s everybody else’s version of cutting the wedding cake, and then there’s the Iranian version. Known as raghseh chagoo, this tradition begins when a female family member or friend begins dancing to a Persian tune whilst holding the cake knife in her hand.

In true Iranian fashion, the women dance gracefully despite having to hold a knife in their hands throughout the routine. The couple then has to give her money in the hopes of earning the knife.

The woman may accept the money and then proceed to give the knife to another woman. This continues until a female relative or friend feels the bride and groom have earned the knife. It’s a unique way of celebrating the cutting of the cake and is super fun to watch.

5. Kanyadaan, India

[Image description: A bride’s hand is seen being placed on top of the groom’s hand.] via Giphy.
As a daughter, the thought of being given away is an emotional one. In Indian culture, the Kanyadaan is the process of the father giving away his daughter. During the Kanyadaan, the father of the bride takes her right hand and places it on top of the groom’s right hand. This act is the way the father asks the groom to treat his daughter as an equal partner.

After the hands are placed on top of one another, the mother of the bride pours holy water on top of both hands. As people chant during the ceremony, the water soaks through the bride’s hands and into the groom’s, signifying unity.

6. The wishing tree, the Netherlands

[Image description: A Dutch wedding tree, filled with wishes] via Shutterstock
[Image description: A Dutch wedding tree, filled with wishes] via Shutterstock
Some cultures have a wedding guestbook signed by well-wishers that couples can have as a keepsake, but the Dutch go above and beyond in this respect. In the Netherlands, there is no wedding book. Instead, there is a tree that guests adorn with well-wishes for the bride and groom.

Friends and family of the couple write down their well-wishes on small note cards or leaflets, while the tree is typically placed adjacent to the couple’s table.

After the notes are written and collected, they are given to the couple to read aloud, after which the couple ties the notes onto the tree with colorful ribbons. It’s a lovely way of wishing the couple a lifetime of happiness from the people that matter most to them.

7. Releasing doves, Philippines

[Image description: A couple holds a pair of doves.] via Shutterstock
[Image description: A couple holds a pair of doves.] via Shutterstock
Throughout history, doves have been symbols of peace, so it should be no surprise that they are often released during weddings. In Filipino tradition, the bride and groom release a pair of doves, one male, and one female.

This is seen to symbolize unity, prosperity, love, and peace within the marriage.

8. Giving the bride a pair of lovespoons, Wales

[Image description: A pair of lovespoons for a Welsh  couple] via Shutterstock
[Image description: A pair of lovespoons for a Welsh couple] via Shutterstock
The history of lovespoons alone is enough to make you swoon. Historically, lovespoons were carved out by a man and given to the woman he loved, and the spoons would usually be decorated with intricate designs symbolizing the love between the couple. The woodwork was also important to the father of the bride as it symbolized the groom’s capability to provide for their daughter.

Today, Welsh couples are gifted lovespoons by friends and family. The grooms may also gift these spoons to their brides-to-be before the wedding or in some cases after the marriage. The token of love is not just a display of creativity, but also a beautiful way to express one’s love.

9. Unity bowls of rocks, Australia

[Image description: An Australian wedding ceremony might feature the tradition of a unity bowl.] via Pinterest
[Image description: An Australian wedding ceremony might feature the tradition of a unity bowl.] via Pinterest
Prepare yourself for the waterworks. In Australia, the friends and family of the happy couple fill a bowl with various stones. At first glance, this may seem a bit strange, but the meaning behind the tradition is genuinely touching. The stones vary in color, with each symbolizing the color each family member or friend brings to the lives of the couple.

At the end of the wedding, the couple is given the bowl full of stones. The bowl serves as a symbol of the love and support that the couple has from their friends and family. It’s a lovely way to include your friends and family in one of the most important days of your life and serves as an important reminder of their love and support.

10. Bringing the flames, South Africa

[Image description: A display of a South African fire ceremony] via Shutterstock
[Image description: A display of a South African fire ceremony] via Shutterstock
This tradition is incredibly beautiful and touching. In South Africa, the parents of the bride and the groom carry firewood from their own homes to the home of the couple. There, they begin burning the wood in the hopes of igniting the flames of the new home.

What is important about this tradition is that the firewood that is brought over by the parents is a symbol of the flames from the couples’ childhood homes and the continuation of that warmth and light into their new homes and lives.

In other words, this touching tradition reminds newlyweds that home is not too far away and that the feelings of comfort and security from their childhood homes are with them always.

Fashion Lookbook Weddings

33 stunning Moroccan brides celebrating epic weddings

1. Gorgeous!



2. She’s a princess- absolutely stunning!



3. Her crown and dress set the tone of a queen in the years to come.


4. When you always look fabulous, no matter the occasion:


5. Veil and outfit on point.


6. Perfection!



7. Her gown is #goals



8. Traditionally beautiful? Check. Full of glow? Check. Onwards!


9. Moroccan everything= amazing




11. Her headdress is everything.



12. Dabbing your way in life. Gets you everywhere.


13. Golden and a glorious veil.


14. What a beautiful couple.


15. What a day! What a look!


16. The coordination is stellar.



17. They’re meant for each other.



18. Her smile is !!!


19. Slay, queen, slay!



20. Her hijab and dress are gorgeous.



21. Woah!



22. *casually brings a camel to wedding*


23. Hearts. Hearts all around.


24. What pretty embroidery!


25. The look she gives him!


26. Stellar!

27. Stunning, as always.



28. What a beauty!



29. Tres chic!


30. Caftan on POINT.



31. *tears of joy*



32. Belle of the ball.


33. 10 out of stunning 10!

Food & Drinks Life

You can’t have a real Southern Thanksgiving without these fabulous dishes

My grandmother, Doll, makes some of the best food I have ever tasted. It’s rich in butter (so much butter), fat, cheese, and all of that delicious bad stuff. She spends the week before Thanksgiving cooking cornbread for the dressing (and no dressing is not the same as stuffing and I’ll fight anyone who says otherwise), several pecan and apple pies, and other desserts like peach cobbler. As you can imagine, her house smells amazing. Now, because our family shares differing political views, we don’t discuss politics at the table. Instead, all the focus is on food, and unfortunately, football. Because I hate the NFL and don’t really do sports in general, my focus is 100 percent on the food.

The dishes featured are a few of my personal favorites. It’s not a real holiday family gathering if these dishes aren’t there, am I right?

Cornbread Dressing

The dressing is NOT stuffing. I repeat dressing is NOT stuffing. It’s so much better than stuffing. Doll makes a giant pan (it even has a designated blue pan because this dish is that amazing) of this delicious dish that makes for the best leftovers. It’s made with chicken, eggs, cornbread, and a heap of spices. This is actually my favorite dish. Put a little giblet gravy on top and oh man, heaven on a plate. Because I believe everyone should eat dressing, here is a link to a similar version of Doll’s recipe. This is just a me thing, but I totally think cornbread tastes better when its made in a cast iron skillet. I actually think my mom and grandma would disown me if I made it another way.

Grandma’s Mac & Cheese

Y’all…this mac and cheese is the best mac and cheese I’ve ever had. And, I’m not the only one that thinks so. Everyone in Doll’s church circle LOVES her mac and cheese. She’ll bring it to potlucks and other church gatherings and people go wild. This mac and cheese is gooey, cheesy goodness. Doll believes the Tabasco sauce is what sets it apart from your average mac and cheese. I personally think it’s a mix of that and the like 500 layers of cheese she adds to this glorious dish.

Greenberg Smoked Turkey

This is an East Texas tradition that I never want to miss. Greenberg’s are smoked to perfection. The meat is moist and tender. Y’all haven’t had leftover turkey sandwiches until you’ve had a leftover Greenberg turkey sandwich. Basically, this turkey is life changing. Seriously. If you ever find yourself in East Texas for the holidays, buy a Greenberg turkey. Even deep friend it’s delicious! My mom isn’t a turkey fan, but she’ll gobble up a Greenberg.

Broccoli and Rice Casserole

I think this might be one of my top favs. It’s cheesy and all around delicious. I won’t lie. I have hidden leftovers so no one else can have any. Doll is on to me, but she’d never rat me out because I’m her favorite (sorry sis if you’re reading this). This dish is to die for. Doll uses a blend of cheeses for the cheese sauce, chopped broccoli, and white rice. It’s not at all healthy, but oh my gosh is it delicious.

Green Bean Casserole

Although this is a typical Thanksgiving dish, my Doll makes it especially delicious. It’s creamy, but it also has a slight crunch thanks to the fried onions on top. But the best part about this dish is that Doll usually only makes it for me because no one else in our fam loves it as much as I do. It pays to be the favorite grandchild (sorry not sorry sis) #winning

And of course, Sweet Potatoes

We eat these all year round, but it’s not Thanksgiving if Doll doesn’t make sweet potatoes drowned in butter. What’s great about sweet potatoes is you can have it as a side, and then have it for dessert later. You just gotta add marshmallows and boom. More sweet potatoes. The only sad part of this dish is there usually aren’t many leftovers.

Now it’s time for dessert. Doll usually makes two pecan (pronounced peh-cahn) and apple pies, usually a peach cobbler, sometimes a cheesecake if my grandpa requests it, and a pumpkin or rice pie. Other family members also bring stuff, but to be honest, I’m only interested in the pecan and apple pies. The pecan is my favorite because when I was little, that was the dish I always helped make. In fact, if you look at Doll’s handwritten recipe, it will say “Gracie’s Magnificent Pecan Pie.” You wish you had a pie named after you *insert sunglasses emoji here.*

Since we all believe we make the best Thanksgiving Dinner, let’s all enjoy it with our friends and family. And if you’re like me, a Democrat surrounded by Republicans, ignore everything but the food. Just keep eating, eating, and eating and eventually, you’ll fall asleep and then no one can tell you how wrong your opinions are.

Tips & Tricks Surviving the Holidays Culture Family Gender & Identity Food & Drinks Life

12 traditional Eid al-Fitr dishes from across the globe that you absolutely have to try

Eid al-Fitr literally means “holiday of breaking the fast.” It comes after the month of Ramadan in which Muslims don’t eat when there is sunlight. So naturally this celebration is one big feast for everyone who can finally eat while the sun is still up. In several cultures, meals eaten during Eid are just bigger and fancier versions of the meals eaten every night during Ramadan. But there are also some special foods that really mark the holiday.

1. Maamoul

A plate filled with Mamoul biscuits and a smaller one with a full biscuit and a halved one
Image description: A plate filled with Mamoul biscuits and a smaller one with a full biscuit and a halved one

This shortbread cookie is primarily eaten Levantine countries like Syria and Lebanon. There are different variations of stuffing, usually dates, pistachios, or walnuts, and they are often covered in powdered sugar. Kleicha is a very similar cookie enjoyed in Iraq as well as kahk in Egypt and Sudan.

2. Cambaabur

Image description: Cambaabur, a Somali Eid bread with sprinkled sugar and yoghurt on top Source:

This is a Somali Eid bread similar to injera in texture but has different spices added to it. On Eid it’s typically served sweet with sprinkled sugar and topped with yogurt for a tangy contrast. This recipe is also very popular in Djibouti and may have originated there.

3. Sheer khurma

Image description: a bowl with sheer khurma

Literally translated as “milk with dates,” sheer khurma is also known as semai in Bangladesh. This sweet vermicelli dessert is an Eid favorite in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan. It’s prepared with vermicelli, milk, sugar, dates and, depending on the country, pistachios, almonds, and/or raisins.

4. Tajine

A table laid out with cutlery sets and various plates with appetizers such as samosas, berries, and salad, and a big plate of Tajine.

Eid al-Fitr isn’t just marked by elaborate desserts. Big, grand, meat dishes are also prepared in several countries on Eid. Tajine is one of those dishes often served in North African countries like Morocco and Algeria. It is a slow-cooked stew prepared with some sort of meat (often lamb or beef), with vegetables and/or fruits like plums and apricots.

5. Doro wat

Image description: bowl of Doro wat

This is a hearty Ethiopian stew or curry prepared with chicken and is typically eaten with the classic sourdough-tasting bread, injera. It is typically served on a communal dish allowing everyone to dig in and enjoy both the food and the company.

6. Lokum

Image description: A platter with 3 glasses of tea and lots of Turkish delight.

What we know in English as “Turkish delight,” lokum is a favorite for holidays like Eid in Turkey. This gel-like dessert is a combination of starch, sugar, and other fillings like dates, pistachios, and walnuts. Tastes good and is also one of the most beautiful Eid desserts as it can come in many different colors.

7. Tufahija

Image description: a platter with Turkish coffee and sugar, and a desert glass with Tufahija

Tufahija is a dessert enjoyed by several Bosnians on Eid. It’s poached apple drenched in sugar and stuffed with walnut. It is often served elaborately in a large individual glass filled with syrup and topped with whipped cream. A very sweet way of celebrating the end of the fast.

8. Manti

Image description: a dish full of Manti dumplings

These dumplings are a traditional Russian Eid al Fitr food, though they can be found all over the world. It’s thought to originate in what we now know as China and is a part of Afghan, Armenian, Turkish, Bosnian, and central Asian cuisine. They’re usually stuffed with spiced lamb or beef and size and shape varies across regions.

9. Bolani

Image description: a serving plate with Bolani

Bolani is one of those dishes enjoyed throughout Ramadan and still eaten on Eid al Fitr and throughout other special occasions year-round. Found in Afghanistan, it is a thin-crusted bread with a vegetable filling, stuffed with foods like potatoes, lentils, or pumpkin and can be served with yogurt. It’s typically served as a side or appetizer, though it can be eaten as a main dish.

10. Lapis legit

Image description: A closeup of Lapis legit stacked against one another.

This is an Indonesian take on traditional Dutch layer cakes that was developed during colonial times. It’s made like a typical cake with flour, butter, and eggs, but contains Indonesian spices like cardamom and clove. It takes a lot of effort to prepare the cake and so is seen as a delicacy to eat on special occasions.

11. Beef Rendang

Image description: a closeup of a dish of Beef Rendang with a spoon in it.

This spicy main course is an Eid classic in Malaysia. It originated with the Minangkabau ethnic group of Indonesia that saw the dish as an embodiment of the society’s culture with the meat symbolizing the leaders/royalty/elders, coconut milk the teachers and writers, chili the religious leaders, and the spice mixture the rest of society.

12. Spice cookies

Image description: Cookies with Eid Mubarak decorative icing on it.

In the United States, most Muslims celebrate Eid by going out to eat at restaurants with large groups of friends and family. But a new trend taken up by American Muslims is making spice cookies (think Christmas gingerbread) but in a more Eid-festive way by using crescent moon and mosque cookie cutters.

As you can tell, there’s no such thing as traditional Muslim holiday food with Muslims coming from a variety of cultural backgrounds that aren’t even all encompassed by this list. But one thing is for sure across all countries, the food on Eid al-Fitr is always stuffing and delicious.

Race The World Inequality

Learning to be a real ally can be more painful than you think

How To Be An Ally’ is a short, animated video about being an ally to women of color. It is a simple clip, made for those close to us. By “us,” I am referring to myself and the fifty other women of color that I interviewed in order to create this video.

Although they now either live in Europe, the UK, or the US, these women have roots in: South Africa, Eritrea, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Morocco, Tunisia, Sudan, Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Kuwait, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, India, Pakistan, Japan, China, Thailand, Malaysia, Mexico, the Philippines, Bangladesh and the Caribbean.

Broadly speaking, this video targets people who already agree that racism, xenophobia and islamophobia suck. People that might share political articles on Facebook, or type away angry tweets about racist/xenophobic/islamophobic events, but will stay silent when someone says something as racist in public.

People that seem to truly desire change, yet don’t do anything about it. Because apparently – they just don’t know how.

Curious to know what people actually could do to help, I began to ask the women of color around me. The interviews asked about the struggles they face on a day to day basis on account of their racial, ethnic, religious and sexual identities, and who – if anyone supported them in dealing with these. If so, how did they do that? What does their ideal form of ally-ship look like?

As you could imagine, answers were extremely varied. Here are a few that stood out to me:

A French-Moroccan woman recounted being followed around by the police in stores when she tries to go shopping. A Thai woman in the UK spoke of how people often talk down to her as though she were a second-class citizen. An Indian woman in the US said that she had been laughed at (on several occasions, by grown adults) for saying her own name. Several Muslim women shared that they had been verbally abused and sometimes physically attacked in all of these countries for walking down the street in their hijab. A Kenyan woman that she was discriminated in university classrooms just for being black, and the list goes on, and on.

Carrying out these interviews was painful, to say the least. There were certainly times when I could relate to the rude comments and uncomfortable interactions the women spoke about. But it also highlighted my ignorance towards the struggles faced by minority groups that are not my own, myself being the daughter of well-off Iranian immigrants to the West.

It raised my awareness about issues that I would have formerly never considered. I was quite struck by how long I’d gone in my life without even considering for example the particular discrimination that East Asian women are subject to in the communities I navigate, or without thinking about how I’d never been an ally to queer women of color in my vicinity. With people around me constantly telling me to be grateful that things are not so bad, and with my own wishful thinking always operating at full force – these interviews were certainly a hard pill to swallow.

Eventually, I noted with every interview that the answers to the ally-ship questions, were pretty unanimous. The word “listen” was repeated to me, in fifty different voices.

Sometimes loudly, sometimes quietly, sometimes with a tone of urgency and deep frustration.

Other suggestions included the simple act of looking things up and educating oneself instead of making broad assumptions. There was a strong desire for people to speak up when they realize something isn’t right. Accompanied by a push for more tangible actions, such as signing petitions, protesting, fundraising and donating.

Check out the video for more details on what these women asked for, and apologies in advance for the cheesy background music.

USA World News The World

Explosions in Mexico, Terror in Berlin, and Henry Heimlich: The Week in Review

We get it, Wednesdays can be tough to get through. In an effort to keep up with the world’s ever-changing news landscape, we’ve put together the top 10 headlines so you can stay on top of things.

1. China seizes U.S. underwater drone


A Chinese ship found a U.S. Navy underwater drone in the South China Sea, an area afflicted by ongoing territory disputes among world powers. While the grounds regarding access to these waters remain unclear, the United States contends that the drone was clearly marked and that China must return the device.  China’s Defense Ministry claims that they picked up the drone because they weren’t sure if it posed a risk to their sailors. While The Donald  was making some idiotic Twitter posts about letting China keep the drone out of spite, Senator John McCain (R) has declared that America’s weak response to the ordeal has only affirmed our deteriorating leverage in global military operations.

2. Henry Heimlich passes away at the age of 96


Henry Heimlich, the surgeon who developed the “bear-hug” maneuver (also known as the Heimlich), died of a heart attack on December 17, 2016. The Heimlich maneuver has saved thousands of lives in choking and drowning situations. In the span of his career, he has not only contributed to improving first-aid emergency response, but he has also invented a number of surgical techniques that were employed in the Vietnam War and are stilly widely used today.

3. Dylann Roof found guilty of Charleston church shooting


Dylan Roof, 22, was finally found guilty of killing nine people at a church in Charleston, South Carolina on June 17, 2015. Last week on Thursday, Roof was convicted of all 33 counts and he filled a note saying that he didn’t want the juror to consider his mental health because, according to his racist journal, psychology is a Jewish invention. However, the jurors still need to decide if he should spend a life in prison or a death penalty.

4. Facebook joins fight against the spread of fake news


Facebook is working with five fact-checking organizations to ease users in reporting fake news when they see it. Those five organizations Facebook works with are ABC News, The Associate Press,, Politifact, and Snopes. It goes this way: if enough people report a story as fake, Facebook will pass it to third-party, fact-checking organisations that are part of the nonprofit Poynter Institute’s International Fact-Checking Network.

Next thing, Facebook won’t remove stories that fail the fact-checking process. Instead, the stories will be publicly flagged as “disputed” so they are forced to appear lower down in feed. The silver lining is that users can learn why it is by clicking them but they’ll get warning if they continue to share the “fake news” with their friends.

5. Ukraine nationalizing its largest bank to stabilize crisis


Since the fight against Moscow-supported militant in the east, Ukraine underwent some matter on financial stability that the government needs to take over the ownership of Ukraine’s largest bank, PrivatBank, that previously belonged to oligarch Igor Kolomoisky. According to different sources, the bank holds up to half of all deposits in Ukraine and is crucial for the country’s banking sector. Twenty million Ukrainians use the bank including 3.2 million pensioners.

6. Explosion in Mexico City fireworks market kills dozens


At least 29 people have been killed outside of Mexico City when a series of explosions set off in a crowded fireworks market. The resulting explosions also injured dozens of individuals. The traditional market has experienced fires in the past, resulting in the Mexican Pyrotechnics Institute setting special safety measures for the event. The cause of these explosions is currently being investigated.

7. Obama moves to permanently ban oil drilling along U.S.-owned waters


In his final weeks as POTUS, President Obama may be using his executive authority to set offshore oil drill bans along “the vast majority” of the Atlantic and Arctic Seaboard. This unprecedented measure would help protect and conserve wildlife, the coastal ecosystem, and indigenous culture. It also serves to prevent further damage in areas that are prone to oil spills. It would be difficult for the next president to overturn this order if enacted.

8. Facts remain unknown in Berlin terror attack


German police report that at least 12 people are dead, and 48 more are injured, after a semi-truck drove through a Christmas market in Berlin. The truck came from a Polish company, the owner of which states that the truck may have been hijacked. Police arrested a migrant from Pakistan shortly after the attack, but local news media reported that this suspect was wrongfully accused. Officials say the crash could have been intentional, however, not all of the facts have been gathered yet.

9. Russian ambassador to Turkey assassinated in Ankara


Andrey Karlov, during his speech at the opening of an exhibition, was shot to death by an off-duty Turkish police officer. He stood behind the ambassador, shouted “Allahu Akbar”, pulled the trigger and shouted again “Don’t forget Aleppo. Don’t forget Syria. Unless our towns are secure, you won’t enjoy security. Only death can take me from here. Everyone who is involved in this suffering will pay a price.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed his condolences on behalf of the country while Russian President Vladimir Putin called the killing “a provocation aimed at derailing the ties between Russia and Turkey, as well as the peace process in Syria”. The shooter was then surrounded by Turkish forces and killed, lying dead on the floor. Other three people were wounded.

10. The BAFTAs call for more diversity for its award and membership


The British Academy of Film and Television Arts made changes for two of its major categories in film award, calling for more diversity both onscreen and behind the screen. BAFTA adopts BFI Diversity Standards to decide the eligibility criteria for “outstanding British film” category and “outstanding debut by a British writer, director or producer” category. These changes will take effect in 2019.

Besides, BAFTA also improves its membership criteria that now states to remove the requirement in which a person must be recommended by two existing members before joining in. Of the 375 BAFTA members joining this year, 43 percent were female, and 18 percent were from minority ethnic groups, with had a median age of 44. By comparison, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ membership is 23 percent female, 6 percent non-white, and the median age is 62.

Happy Holidays!